An article recently on what choice in childbirth really looks like for individual women caught my attention. The most vocal folks who debate birth options seem to believe that whatever position is right for them should be the position everybody takes. Hospital birthers decry homebirthers as borderline child abuser, likening the home birth to squatting alone in the woods around a campfire. Home birthers act as if hospital birthers are just in denial, and every doctor is lying and every hospital birth is an intervention waiting to happen. These voices may not be the majority, but they’re the ones who get the attention, polarizing a debate into black and white when it should be more about shades of gray.
This doesn’t just happen in the childbirth community. In every aspect of our lives, everything gets boiled down to statistics, numbers, and right versus wrong. Smoking, drinking, and drugs. Guns, bullying, and violence. Education, government versus private versus home schooling. Western medicine versus alternative medicine, vaccination, early childhood development. Regulation and public safety versus agriculture, raw milk, brewing, running a business of any kind. Racism, feminism, neurodiversity. Every single one of these issues gets boiled down to black and white sides. Either you want to outlaw it, or you want everybody to do it and what about the children?
Ad hominem and red herring attacks are everywhere today. Speak out against abortion or admit to enjoying flirting and catcalls and you’re siding with rape apologists and supporting the patriarchy. Support a woman who chooses to abort her baby rather than die trying to carry it, and now you’re advocating free-for-all sex on every corner and the total dissolution of the institution of marriage. Or something like that. It’s hard to make sense of it sometimes. Every time somebody says, “Everybody who ….” or “All those who …” I just want to jump in and say, Wait, you don’t know that. I want to point out all the instances I know of that don’t fit.
This is why I am libertarian in my politics. If you ask me if I support a new regulation, a new law, a new anything that involves the government telling other people what to do, chances are I’m going to say no every time. All these black-and-white people out there will probably say that means I think starving children and poor sick people should die and it’s a-okay if the whole planet is engulfed in oil and smog. Forget probably; I’ve had that said to my face. It’s not true. The fact is that I know nearly every situation is unique, and every time you try to apply a single rule across the board somebody is going to get hurt, somebody is going to fall through the cracks. I believe it is better for each person to decide what best to do in their situation, not to have somebody hundreds or thousands of miles away looking at them as a statistic and deciding whether or not to use government force to bend their life one way or another.